Proposals, Grand Gestures, and Why They Don’t Make Everything Better

Joe-Budden-and-TahiryRecently in Negronia aka The Land of Monday Nights on VH1, Love & Hip-Hop: New York star rapper Joe Budden proposed to longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend Tahiry Jose in a rip off of Common’s “Come Close” video sans the deaf chick, Mary J. Blige, or a knit hat.

Joey had Tahiry meet him in Times Square where he paid off somebody to run a video of him and other people holding up signs with various statements about love and companionship, etc. At the end, Joey stands there with a sign indicating that he has a question which is, *drumroll please* “will you marry me? This is where sh*t got real. See, as a man, what you don’t want to happen is the woman to hem and haw and tell you to stand up. Public proposals gone wrong have informed us over time that this is the opposite of what you want to happen. She told Joe that she didn’t want to marry him like this because just a few weeks ago he was f*cking up like only Joe can and then all of a sudden he’s trying to marry her because he decided that this is what he wants now and she should realize that he’s a changed man because of this grand sweeping ass gesture.

As opposed to saying “uh huh honey” she was like, “nuh uh girlfriend.” Insert your own flamboyance.

In the moment while livetweeting this travashamockery of a proposal (it did seem a bit staged) I stated this:

I’m going to attempt to place myself in the high-heels, flats, and boots of women everywhere because I completely understand this. In the minds of many men, we think that what all women want is the ring. And not just the ring, but what we feel like it should symbolize. She complains all the time and tries to front me off on all this stuff but she just wants that ring. Yoncé got her out here thinking I don’t really like it because I never put a ring on it. No matter how much I f*ck up or how much I don’t listen, the ring will wash away all that negativity and she’ll understand that I love her and shut the f*ck up with the complaints and the trust issues and all that. [There is a small percentage of women who want the ring bad enough where they think this will actually make things better.]

This is asinine and wrong. I’m a man so I’m about to tell on myself a bit (okay, a lot) here. Allow me quote another individual that isn’t myself:

“I’m a guy. Since when do we get anything right the first time?” – Alex Hitchins , Hitch

I feel like the biggest want from any woman towards her man is effort. Pure, simple effort. Sometimes this takes us a while to get right. But there are those of us who almost never do. But effort.

So what you bombed on a date; did you really try to make her feel special? Did you attempt to show her that you cared enough to think about what she may want to do? Did you plan? All women (yes, ALL) will cut you slack as long as they know you gave it a real shot. Did you say you were going to stop f*cking up? Well, what did you do to show her you meant it and weren’t just handing her wooden nickels? Did you do anything differently? If not, then you put forth no effort. And anybody paying attention will notice. And do you know whose paying attention? Do you? Do you? Why am I asking so many questions? And asking questions twice? And asking questions twice?

Women. The woman who asked you to show and prove is paying attention. That hurts more than the ACTUAL f*ck up that takes place. The lack of consideration and effort to be who you claim you are is what annoys women. This is why grand sweeping gestures fall upon deaf ears. For one, history teaches us than when folks do something huge and outside of the norm they’ve usually done something wrong.

Or b) just don’t get it.

If you’ve said you would do something and haven’t made any changes, proposing isn’t going to get you to that promised land my n*gga. Hell, it begs the question, what do YOU think is the promised land? I can’t even blame a woman for asking a man why he would want to marry her considering recent actions that indicate otherwise. Joe talks a good game. But it’s also his profession. Despite his lack of significant fame he is actually one of the better wordsmiths in the hip-hop game. You can disagree. You will be wrong. Fight me. But talking a good game for nine years becomes transparent. A woman knows what to look for and she probably knows what “giving a f*ck” looks like on your part.

So, what’s going to be different aside from the title? “Wise man once say marriage don’t fix problem. Marriage highlight more problem.” Wise man English no so good.

So while she has all of this going through her head while you’re on bended knee a solid two weeks out of f*cking up major – and yes we major, for real homey, we major – she is thinking about the fact that, this fool thinks that proposing is what I really want.

Newsflash: She doesn’t want to get married. She wants to stay married.

Well she wants to get married too. Let me not even pretend that’s not the case. But when you’ve been through as much sh*t as they have, you actually know what you’re getting in the status quo. And maybe that staus quo isn’t enough. Sure the ring is great, but what comes with that ring? If you’re a man who is constantly f*cking up, what is she really winning aside from a ring?

And while I’m focused on the ring because of the episode that spawned the discussion, the fact is a sweeping gesture is just that. It’s a grand show in the moment. But what happens in the next moments?

I’m aware that all of us menfolks don’t think that making one grand gesture will make up fro all the stuff we don’t do. I’m also aware that you all are aware that most of us are aware that any number of us do exactly what Joe did: come to the realization that he wanted to be with her and figured the best way to show was to propose, never mind the past. To be fair, MANY people – both men and women – wish that their pasts could be stricken from the record, even amidst the situation they’re in. It takes a lot to give somebody a blank slate.

Point is, and this is getting long, and yes, that is what she said, a grand gesture does not a problem fix. It’s a start…but you should never start with a marriage proposal.

Not for nothing, I’ll be surprised if Joe ever proposes again. In a wicked twist of fate and irony, rejecting a wedding proposal that is serious usually deads the relationship. Oh love, you are a wretched unicorn. But it is pretty serious to say that you don’t want to spend your  life with somebody that you do love.

Ladies, am I on message here? Fellas, am I missing something? What’s the verdict on grand gestures?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. YOU DONT WANT TO MARRY ME COOL I’M JUST GONNA CHILL OVER HERE AND EAT RAVIOLI aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

So…I’m Engaged Now. Here’s Why

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This wasn’t supposed to happen.

At least, this is not how I envisioned things happening. I’m not supposed to be engaged now. I’m not supposed to be in love. I’m not supposed to be planning a life with someone. I’m not supposed to not be able to envision a future without her in it. But I am engaged. I am in love. I am planning a life with someone. And I am uninterested in envisioning a future without her in it.

None of this was supposed to happen because I’m supposed to be single now. At least, that is what I told myself two years ago. Newly single, I planned on remaining single. I didn’t have a set amount of time to stay single—doing that would have felt too arbitrary and inauthentic—but I knew I did not want to be in a serious relationship again any time soon.

Why? Well, the best and most attractive part about being single is the most obvious. You’re single. Which means you’re free. Often, the activity that can be a product of this freedom is touted as the best part about being single. I disagree. The freedom itself is the best part. The ability to do whatever, whenever, however. And with whoever. Or not. Freedom isn’t dating multiple women. Or eating cereal for dinner. Or staying out until four every weekend. Freedom is just the freedom to do these things if you choose to.

This freedom is intoxicating without any of the side effects associated with intoxicants. There is absolutely no downside to it. None. People often blame bad decisions on freedom. Which is silly. Freedom doesn’t make you do anything. If it did, it wouldn’t be freedom. Freedom doesn’t cause anything. It just is. Blaming freedom for bad decisions is like blaming oxygen for asphyxiation.

This freedom is why I get why some people choose to stay single longer than society would like to dictate. It’s also why, for many of us, the common narratives about why people in our generation (men and women) are choosing to stay single longer than our parents and grandparents did seem all wrong. It’s not about a fear of commitment. Or narcissism. Or selfishness. Or even a lack of love. It’s just that, for many of us, a “free” life equals a better one. The benefits of love and companionship are known, valued, and appreciated. The benefit of being free are just valued and appreciated more.

Anyway, I dated a few women during this free period. I even grew to like one of them very much. Very, very much. So much that when I learned I wasn’t prepared to give up that freedom for her, I started to think it would never happen. I was fine with that. As I said, I planned on remaining single and staying free. But I also planned on not liking anyone that much, and when I did and still felt the urge to be free, I figured this commitment to freedom was for real.

And it was.

Until she happened.

And when she happened, I no longer felt that urge to be free. There was no ambivalence. No second thoughts. No pulling away. No anything else but her.

We were friends. Great friends. Best friends, actually. And then, we were no longer just friends. I know that sounds too simple. And I debated adding details to give the story more meat. To make it more realistic. But that would just obscure the suddenness and the violence of how it happened. One day I was alive. And then the next day the rest of my life began.

I was free before her. But now my life is better. This isn’t a knock on freedom. I was happy. Very happy. Freedom is unbelievable. Freedom is fucking great. It’s just that she’s just so much better than it.

I proposed November 30th. We’ve been together for a year now, which is how long we’ve both known how much we both wanted each other. The ring is just a way to let everyone else know.

None of this was supposed to happen. I thought I knew what I wanted. But it is happening. And I thank God I was wrong.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Five Quick Takeaways From The 300 Sandwiches Internet Shindig

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1. I lucked into my favorite sandwich. I happened to home during the afternoon one day, I happened to be watching Oprah, and it happened to be an episode where she had celebrities on to speak about their favorite foods. Chris Rock was one of the celebrities, and he raved about a shrimp and bacon club from The Cheesecake Factory.

This blew my mind twice! (Yes, I had a twice blown mind!)

A) Shrimp and bacon are arguably my two favorite foods, and it never crossed my mind to put them together!

B) I had no idea The Cheesecake Factory sold anything other than cheesecake!

You see, this episode aired maybe a month or two after The Cheesecake Factory opened their first Pittsburgh-area franchise. I’d hear people talk about going there all the time, and I’d always think “I like cheesecake, but not so damn much that I’d wait an hour for a table just to eat some for dinner. WTF is wrong with people?”

I made sure to go there the next weekend, and, well, let me just say this: This happened eight or nine years ago. In the time since, I’ve been there at least a couple dozen times. Despite the fact that they have a menu heavier than Drake’s conscience, the shrimp and bacon club is the only thing I’ve ever eaten there.

2. This whole hullabaloo reinforces the idea that certain things just don’t translate well to paper. And by “certain things just don’t translate well to paper” I mean “the internet is full of humorless shrews.”

Just take a look at this part in the original NY Post profile.

Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”

“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.

“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”

To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.”

“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?” has drawn quite a bit of internet-ire. To be fair, this standalone statement does seem rather demeaning. But, while I (obviously) don’t know what’s going on in their relationship, I do know that many couples regularly say jokingly playful shit to each other that, if taken out of context, could be considered offensive. This actually seems rather tame.

For instance, there was a two week stretch earlier this year when the Gay Reindeer and I were on a Kendrick Lamar kick, and “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” was our default reply to everything. It was nothing for one of us to say “How was your day?” or “Did you pick up some orange juice?” or “I’m going to the gym later” only to have “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” as the response. 

Corny? Definitely. I am the corniest motherf*cker who ever lived, and I think it’s affecting her by osmosis. But, we thought it was funny, so we did it.

But let’s say she wrote a blog about it. And let’s say that blog was quoted somewhere without any sense of the context.

I’d wake him up, and ask him how his sleep was.

“Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” he’d reply, as he stumbled into the bathroom, leaving me alone in bed.

I’d call out to him again, reminding him to put the cap on the toothpaste or the lid on the toilet. “Bitch,” he’d sneer, “didn’t I already say you were killing my vibe?”

Now I’m an emotionally abusive asshole instead of just a corny one.

My point? J Cole is better for relationships than Kendrick Lamar.

3. Stephanie Smith and her boyfriend were on the TODAY show yesterday. A clip of it showed up in my newsfeed. I watched it.

She seems like a very nice woman who has unfortunately turned herself into one of those characters from one of those J-Lo romantic comedies from a decade ago where she’d play a single woman who was approaching 35 and was driving herself and everyone around her crazy with her need to find a man—any man—before her ovaries fell right out of her vagina and bounced softly into the grass before rolling into a sewer.

And, he seems like a very nice man who, unfortunately for Smith, seems to be the White version of the “Every. Single. Person. On. The. Planet. thinks he’s gay except for her” guy some very successful middle-aged Black women tend to write books about, marry, divorce, and write more books about.

4. While the idea of “earning” a man’s hand in marriage through cheeseburgers and Reubens seems rather odd, I think her blog is cute and creative and shit. I also realize I could just be saying this because of how much I love sandwiches and Black women who make sandwiches. Seriously, if Burger King or McDonalds ever combined the two and made a Black woman sandwich, I’d…well, I don’t like where this is headed, so let’s just move on to the next one.

5. All things considered, I wouldn’t be surprised if this all were some elaborate prank. She does write for the Post, and he does kinda remind me of a villain from Burn Notice, so anything is possible.

I’d write more, but this subject is making me hungry, and I’m growing annoyed that the Gay Reindeer has been up for 15 hours already and still hasn’t made me any damn sandwiches.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

One Woman’s Fear That “Wedding Ring” = “No More Random Male Attention…EVER!”

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***Hello, everyone. Please welcome Chris E. to the VSB pulpit. Since this is her first time, I added a few notes under some of her words to, um, help her out. Who said I wasn’t a gentleman?***

All the excitement of “when is he going to call?”, “I know what this text says literally, but when I stare at it long enough…”, and “why are you hiding in my car?” is done. Over. I jumped the broom into a new world of interaction with men: cordiality, appropriateness, and respect. I am a wife now, a southern preacher’s wife at that. To be admired quietly from afar, left alone with my #turndownforthis stone on my wedding band. It’s lovely and mildly terrifying knowing I’ll only hear Rick James’ “Cold Blooded” ad libs from one man for the rest of my life.

***So yeah. It’s quite difficult to pull off a full paragraph humblebrag—it took me three and a half years to learn how to do it—but Chris E. managed to land it on her first try. Wow. Good job, grasshopper. Also, is it bad that I still have absolutely no idea what any of these “turn down” references mean? Panama tried to explain it to me a couple weeks ago, but I got distracted by a video of someone twerking on a mailbox and tuned him out.***

I’m a former waitress, nightclub bartender, and Oakland resident—a city where ninjas will hop outta moving bus window for the number on you.

***From what I’ve heard about Oakland, I’m pretty sure they’re just making sure you recycle. And, by “making sure you recycle” I mean “asking if you strip.”***

Although I’ve never been dependent on it for validation, those factors made me accustomed to a lot of male attention. I live for the spectacular conversation that comes with being approached. As a screenwriter, it’s a fantastic dialogue resource. I could never come up with Too $hort banishing me from a domino game then walking across the Coliseum parking lot to inform me I put too much mustard on my hot dog on my own. What if seeing my ring suddenly stops all the Playas from the Himalayas from ever speaking up?

***You’re actually the first woman I’ve heard complain about this. Most I’ve talked to seem to consider the whole “guys won’t approach me as often if they see the ring” thing a good thing.***

A married man’s ring comes with the freak train station magnetic field. They instantly look ten times more desirable! My husband gets to motion with his left hand every other syllable in the pulpit and I have to deal with the women who lust for nothing more than their sanctified pastor. How do I stunt on the hoochie visitors if I don’t feel I’m still batting 1000? Can I look forward to keeping my lips pursed on these crows if my only extramarital affirmation of attractiveness from the opposite sex is an elder’s church hug? I’m used to being greeted with “SH*T! GOTDAMN!” Now it’s “Good morning, Sista, so nice to see you, be blessed, tell Pastor thank you for the message.”

***”Boo f*cking hoo.” — says every single Black woman ever. Seriously though, I have always wondered how married couples deal with that dynamic. Generally speaking, as men age and gain more social/financial status, our romantic options tend to increase. The opposite tends to happen with women. (Not always, but often) I can imagine that being a potential strain on a decades-long relationship.***

If this the real reason why Meagan Good wore that blue dress to the BET Awards, I totally get it.

***I get it too. In fact, I have a gallery of those pics saved to Google drive for those late nights when I’m not sure if I’ve still gotten it.***

Hearing “you’re beautiful” from same person all the time, who’s like, supposed to tell you that even when you’re looking like Gina at Martin’s high school reunion, requires a level of self-awareness on a whole nother frequency. I don’t know if I’m that self-aware. I need to be guided by feedback. Roars of applause before my boobs drop it lower than I can without being told on would be much appreciated. I don’t want to reach that Nicole Ari Parker peak wife fineness and be completely oblivious, realizing years later in a clawing panic.

***The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.***

If this is why Rasheeda made a video for “Hit It From The Back” while pregnant with dancers too uncomfortable to touch her while she rapped about fire coming out her asshole, I totally understand.

Newlywed neurosis has me buggin. I keep fearing I’ll turn into the wild auntie that makes everyone nervous at cookouts from unsolicited compliment deprivation. I live in a small town in Arkansas where street harassment is nonexistent… I can’t get a simple “smile, girl!” walking past a bum. I think about my friends and I celebrating our 30th birthday next year and tense up cause I’m not tryna be hit with the “why are you married in the club?!” diss.

***You do realize that this last paragraph gives concrete justification to all the guys who believe women actually appreciate (and need) street harassment, don’t you?” I’m just sayin.***

I don’t wanna be a dime deferred, a ragged raisin solely adored by vows and obligation. Just a flattering echo outside the home, a lil tug on my figurative bra strap, enough to know I still got it. All I ask. A bachelorette party performer named Hena C has traumatized me for eternity. I can’t seek that in strippers.

***”A Dime Deferred” is definitely a great title to a movie staring Monica Calhoun and Ron Artest that I’d never, ever, ever watch.***

Does it make a married woman insecure to enjoy hearing objective baritone fawning every once in a while?

***Yes. But, join the club.***

Where is the line drawn between post-matrimonial fun and post-matrimonial out of pocket?

***You can find more of Chris E. at Christina Wrote That or at some random southern church being subtlety side-eyed because she didn’t know all the words to Goin Up a Yonder***

Three Quick Takeaways From The News Of The Kerry Washington/Nnamdi Asomugha Nuptials

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***Being that this is a holiday (Happy 4th everyone!), I’ll keep it short***

1. Between her star-making role as Olivia Pope on everyone’s favorite source of interracial angst, her turn as Broomhilda in Django Unchained, her commencement address giving, her Michelle Obama BFFing, and her appearing on covers of magazines that haven’t had a Black woman on its cover since Stringer Bell was still alive, Kerry Washington is unarguably the hottest/most popular/most relevant African-American actress working today. It was found out yesterday that she married Nnamdi Asomugha, a multi-millionaire NFL star and Cal Berkeley grad who is known to be one of the best players at his position. He is also the chairman of his own foundation (an organization that earned him a President’s Volunteer Service Award), has appeared on numerous TV shows, and has developed a friendship with Bill Clinton. 

They apparently have been married since June 24th. Shocking news, especially since no one (well, no one outside of their family and friends, I assume) even knew they have been dating.

My point? If these two extremely high-profile people can keep their relationship (somewhat) private, there’s really no excuse for your accountant-ass to ever allow “it’s really tough to date or be in a relationship nowadays cause the city is so small and Facebook and Twitter has everyone all up in your business” to drip out of your extra regular-ass life having ass lips.

2. Nigerians are apparently very happy about this. If you see a Nigerian tomorrow, and they  randomly give you an extra Nigerian hug, this is likely why. Don’t ask questions. Just embrace it, and accept their kind offering of stew and jollof rice.

3. I don’t know either of these people. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding their relationship. And, I don’t know if the relationship is going to last.

But, I do know they started dating last summer. They got married this summer. It didn’t even take a year. This reminds me of something else I know.

When you know, you know. 

And, when you know, there’s no “exploring other options to make sure I’m making the right decision” or “trying to get your stuff together” or “taking a break right now” or “not really being ready for something serious right now.” 

Why? Well, you just know.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)